The Rizal Monument on Rizal Park
|Area||54 hectares (130 acres)|
|Operated by||National Parks Development Committee|
Rizal Park (Filipino: Liwasang Rizal), also known as Luneta Park or colloquially Luneta, is a historical urban park located in the heart of the city of Manila, Philippines, adjacent to the old walled city of Manila, now Intramuros. Since the Spanish Colonial Era, the park has been a favorite spot for unwinding, socializing, an urban oasis for family picnics on Sundays and holidays. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Manila.
Located along Manila Bay, Luneta has been the site of some of the most significant moments in Philippine history. The execution of pacifist Dr. José Rizal on December 30, 1896, sparked the fire of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish colonizers, elevating the martyr as the national hero of the country. The park was officially renamed Rizal Park in his honor and his monument serves as the symbolic focal point of the park. The Declaration of Philippine Independence from American rule was held here on July 4, 1946 as well as the political rallies of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino in 1986 that led to the EDSA Revolution that deposed Marcos ending his dictatorial government.
Luneta is situated at the northern terminus of Roxas Boulevard. To the east of the boulevard, the park is bounded by Taft Avenue, Padre Burgos Drive and T.M. Kalaw Avenue. To the west is the reclaimed area of the park bounded by Katigbak Dr., South Dr., and the shore of Manila Bay.
Spanish Colonial Period
Rizal Park's history began in 1820 when the Paseo de Luneta was completed just south of the walls of Manila on a marshy patch of land next to the beach during the Spanish rule. Prior to the park, the marshy land was the location of a small town called Nuevo Barrio (New Town or Bagumbayan in Tagalog language) that dates back to 1601. The town and its churches, being close to the walled city, were strategically used as cover by the British during their attack. They were cleared by the British during their short rule from 1762 to 1764. The area later became known as Bagumbayan Field where the Cuartel la Luneta (Luneta Barracks), a Spanish Military Hospital (which was destroyed by one of the earthquakes of Manila), and a moat-surrounded outwork of the walled city of Manila, known as the Luneta (lunette) because of its crescent shape.
West of Bagumbayan Field was the Paseo de la Luneta (Plaza of the Lunette) named after the fortification, not because of the shape of the plaza which was a long 100-by-300-metre (330 ft × 980 ft) rectangle ended by two semicircles. It was also named Paseo de Alfonso XII (Plaza of Alfonso XII), after Alfonso XII, King of Spain during his reign from 1874 to 1885. Paseo de la Luneta was the center of social activity for the people of Manila in the early evening hours. This plaza was arranged with paths and lawns and surrounded by a wide driveway called "La Calzada" (The Road) where carriages circulate.
Execution of Gomez, Burgos and Zamora
During the Spanish period from 1823 to 1897 most especially in the latter part, the place became notorious for public executions. A total of 158 political enemies of Spain were martyred in the park. On February 17, 1872, three Filipino priests, Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as Gomburza, were executed by garrote, accused of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.
American Colonial Period
The bronze-and-granite Rizal monument is among the most famous sculptural landmarks in the country. It is almost protocol for visiting dignitaries to lay a wreath at the monument. Located on the monument is not merely the statue of the national hero, but also his remains.
On September 28, 1901, the United States Philippine Commission approved Act No. 243, which would erect a monument in Luneta to commemorate the memory of José Rizal, Philippine patriot, writer and poet. The committee formed by the act held an international design competition between 1905–1907 and invited sculptors from Europe and the United States to submit entries with an estimated cost of ₱100,000 using local materials.
The first-prize winner was Carlos Nicoli of Carrara, Italy for his scaled plaster model titled “Al Martir de Bagumbayan” (To the Martyr of Bagumbayan) besting 40 other accepted entries. The contract though, was awarded to second-placer Swiss sculptor named Richard Kissling for his “Motto Stella” (Guiding Star).
After more than twelve years of its approval, the shrine was finally unveiled on December 30, 1913 during Rizal’s 17th death anniversary. His poem "Mi Ultimo Adios" ("My Last Farewell") is inscribed on the memorial plaque. The site is continuously guarded by ceremonial soldiers, known as Kabalyeros de Rizal (Knights of Rizal).
Philippine Independence Day celebrations
The Independence Flagpole, standing at 107 metres (351 ft), is the highest flagpole in the Philippines. On this spot in front of Rizal Monument, at 9:15am July 4, 1946, the full independence of the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed as authorized by the United States President Harry S. Truman. Next to the flagpole, a grand Independence Grandstand, designed by architect Juan M. Arellano, was built just for the occasion.
In 1949, a permanent grandstand, a replica of the Independence Grandstand was completed on the reclaimed area along Manila Bay where President Elpidio Quirino was sworn in after winning the presidential election. Since then, newly elected Presidents of the Philippines traditionally take their oath of office and deliver their inaugural address to the nation in the grandstand, which was later renamed after President Quirino. Many important political, cultural and religious events in the post war era have been held here.
On 12 June 1998, the park hosted many festivities which capped the 1998 Philippine Centennial, the event commemorating a hundred years since the Declaration of Independence from Spain and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. The celebrations were led by then President Fidel V. Ramos.
Rizal Park underwent renovations by the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) aimed at restoring elements of the park. The plans included the rehabilitation of the old musical dancing fountain located on the 40 m × 100 m (130 ft × 330 ft) pool, which is the geographical center of the park. The fountain, which is set for inauguration on December 16, 2011, is handled by German-Filipino William Schaare, the same person who built the original fountain in the 1960s. Restoration also included the Flower Clock which was set for inauguration on the 113th Philippine Independence day; the Noli Me Tangere Garden and the Luzviminda Boardwalk, for the 150th birthday celebration of Jose Rizal.
Recent events in the park
- January 15, 1995. The closing Mass of the X World Youth Day 1995 was held here attended by more than 5 million people. This is the record gathering of the Roman Catholic Church.
- November 27, 2005. Rizal Park was the venue of the opening ceremony for the 2005 Southeast Asian Games at the Quirino Grandstand. It was held at an open-air park instead of a stadium, a historic first for a Southeast Asian games' opening ceremony. It was again used on December 5, 2005 for the games' closing ceremony.
- January 17, 2010. Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch) held its International Missionary Day at Quirino Grandstand.
- August 23, 2010. The park was the site of the 11-hour hostage crisis where a Hong Thai Travel Services tour group on a coach was hijacked by Rolando Mendoza, causing casualties and injuries.
- February 28, 2012. The Iglesia ni Cristo held a Grand Evangelical Mission in Quirino Grandstand, simultaneously with other different locations in the Philippines, and was attended by 3 million people.
Annual Events at the Quirino Grandstand
- January 8–9: Feast of the Black Nazarene
- June 12: Philippine Independence Day Celebration
- June 30: Philippine Presidential Inauguration (once in six years)
- Anniversary Overnight Family Appointment with El Shaddai
- Anniversary Celebration of Jesus is Lord Church
- Christmas Overnight Family Appointment with El Shaddai
The park is divided into three sections beginning with the 16-hectare (40-acre) Teodora F. Valencia Circle adjoining Taft Avenue, where the Department of Tourism and the National Museum of the Filipino People (formerly the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Finance respectively) are located, is the Northeastern section; followed by the 22-hectare (54-acre) park proper that extends down to Roxas Boulevard is the Central Section; and terminating at Southwestern section which includes Burnham Green, a 10-hectare (25-acre) open field, the Quirino Grandstand and the Manila Ocean Park along Manila Bay.
|Northwestern side||Southeastern side|
Museum of the Filipino People
Department of Tourism Building
National Library of the Philippines
National Historical Commission of the Philippines
Museo Pambata, formerly the Manila Elks Club
The park is home to various Kali/Eskrima/Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) groups. Every morning, especially on Sundays, Eskrimadors, or Eskrima practitioners can be seen at the Luneta. Even up to the present, stickfighting duels are still very common, albeit in a friendly atmosphere. Various physical fitness groups doing aerobics at the park are also present on weekends.
Points of interest
- Children's Playground, the section of the park built for kids, is located at the southeastern corner of the Rizal Park. The playground was also renovated in 2011.
- Chinese Garden. An ornate Chinese-style gate, carved with swirling dragons, leads you into this whimsical garden which looks like it has been transported from old Peking. Along the lagoon constructed to simulate a small lake, are pagodas and gazebos that are set off by red pillars and green-tiled roofs and decorated with a profusion of mythical figures.
- Concert at the Park at the Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium are performances provided for free to the general public by the National Parks Development Committee, Department of Tourism and the National Broadcasting Network. Free entertainment are also provided elsewhere in the park. Featured shows are a mix of performances from dance, theatre, to musical performances by local and foreign artists.
- Diorama of Rizal's Martyrdom. On an area north of Rizal monument stands a set of statues depicting Rizal's execution, situated on the spot where he was actually martyred, contrary to popular belief that the monument is the spot where he was executed. In the evenings, a Light & Sound presentation titled "The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal", features a multimedia dramatization of the last poignant minutes of the life of the national hero.
- Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument. This monument of two Filipino soldiers aiding a Korean soldier is dedicated to the Filipino combat soldiers who fought with the Korean troops during the Korean War.
- Japanese Garden. The gardens were built to promote friendship between Japan and the Philippines. Inside is nice place for pleasant walks around the Japanese style gardens, lagoon and bridge.
- Lapu-Lapu Monument (or the Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom). The monument was a gift from the people of Korea as appreciation and to honor the memory of freedom-loving Filipinos who helped during the Korean War in the early 1950s (as inscribed in the plaque). Lapu-Lapu was a native Muslim chieftain in Mactan, Cebu and representative of the Sultan of Sulu, and is now known as the first native of the archipelago to resist Spanish colonization. He is retroactively regarded as the first national hero of the Philippines. On the morning of April 27, 1521, Lapu-Lapu and the men of Mactan, armed with spears and kampilan, faced Spanish soldiers led by Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan in what would later be known as the Battle of Mactan. Magellan and several of his men were killed.
- Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium located in the westernmost part of Luneta behind the Quirino Grandstand and along Manila Bay. The complex opened on March 1, 2008.
- Manila Planetarium
- Museum of the Filipino People, on the building north of Agrifina Circle, are the Anthropology and Archeology collections of the National Museum of the Philippines.
- National Library of the Philippines is the country's premier public library. The library has a history of its own and its rich Filipiniana collections are maintained by the librarians to preserve the institution as the nations fountain of local knowledge and source of information for thousands of students and everyday users in their research and studies.
- National Museum of the Philippines, located on the northeastern tip of Rizal Park, is the natural history and ethnography museum of the Philippines.
- Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, established in 1994, was a former parking lot developed into a one-hectare rainforest-like park. The Orchidarium showcases Philippines' rich collection of orchid species and butterflies. The pavilion is also a favorite venue for weddings.
- Relief map of the Philippines is a giant raised-relief map of the country, including the Scarborough Shoal, Kalayaan, and eastern part of Sabah, in the middle of a small man-made lake.
In 2012, the park has been installed with 30 high-definition closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, to make the area safer for local and foreign tourists. The National Parks Development Committee have stationed police and security officers in the key places in the park for added security.
In popular culture
- The Amazing Race 5, the fifth installment of the American Reality TV show, featured the Rizal Monument on Leg 12 as Route Marker.
- The Port Malaya patch in Ragnarok Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMOPPG), features a replica of the Rizal Monument as one of the town's attractions.
- Maranga, Mark Anthony (2010). "Kilometer Zero: Distance Reference of Manila". Philippines Travel Guide. Retrieved on 2011-02-28.
- (1911-12). "The Century Magazine", p.237-249. The Century Co., NY, 1912.
- "History - Spanish Period". Rizal Park. Retrieved on 2011-10-07.
- "Manila and suburbs, 1898". University of Texas in Austin Library. Retrieved on 2011-10-07.
- Jernegan, Prescott Ford (1995). "A Short History of the Philippines", p.252. New York: D. Appleton and Company.
- Vicente, Rafael L. (2005). "The Promise of the Foreign Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines", p. 36. Duke University Press.
- Division of Insular Affairs, War Department (1901). "Public Laws and Resolutions Passed by the United States Philippine Commission", p.689. Washington: Government Printing Office.
- (1905-06). "Proposed Monuments and Monuments News", p.40. Granite, Marble and Bronze Magazine Vol. 15.
- Alcazaren, Paolo (2010-07-10). "Grandstands and great public places". Philstar. Retrieved on 2011-02-28.
- Mejia-Acosta, Iris (2011-05-25). "Luneta Celebrates Rizal's 150th Birthday with a Fresh Look". Pinay Ads.
- "Events". Rizal Park - NPDC. Retrieved on 2013-03-21.
- "The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal". Rizal Park - NPDC. Retrieved on 2011-10-08.
- The Rizal Park 2012 brochure. Department of Tourism.
- "CCTV cameras seen to make Manila's Luneta Park safer". Yahoo! Philippines. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- Otakultura.com (2011). "Malaya Map Revealed!". Retrieved on 2011-09-01.
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